April 4, 2013

Nitaqat: Strain of uncertain future takes its toll on foreigners


Jeddah, Apr 4: The Ministry of Labor’s surprise checks of shops, institutions and businesses have wreaked havoc on the lives of many expatriates.

Expat workers told Arab News of the closures of their employers’ grocery shops, beauty parlors, salons, cafeterias, electric and plumbing stores and private schools. The expatriates asked for a legal solution to this problem.

Workers said that while they appreciate the government’s efforts to rid the Kingdom of illegal workers, the stress of an uncertain future has taken its toll.

A teacher, who works in a private school, said that through her job she is helping her husband in paying bills and the children’s school fees. She said she was not against the government’s goals, but it should provide solutions and proper legal procedures.

“Life is not that easy,” said Shahida Younes. “I am a capable teacher and by teaching in school, I am helping my husband as everything has become expensive. If I can’t work in school, how will I raise my children, what will we do.”

Samia, owner of a beauty parlor, told Arab News she closed her parlor amid great financial loss. “This thing created a serious situation,” she said. “It has caused disturbance in everyone’s life. People are sitting at home in fear.”

A shopkeeper said his store has been closed for three days for fear of being raided and him getting deported.

“I came to the Kingdom on a free labor visa for which I paid SR 15,000, plus SR 7,000 extra for all my paperwork and iqama,” said shopkeeper Ali Akbar. “I paid all this money by taking a loan, which I still haven’t paid. My sponsor doesn’t have any work for me to do, so he gave me permission to work anywhere and he sold me the iqama.”

Salesman Ahmed Malik said: “I feel like that there is no security left, though I am working for my company.”

Some Jeddah residents said raids on schools in search of violators resulted in closures. Pupils are staying at home because of parents’ fears.

Parent Bassem Al-Jahni in Riyadh said: “My daughter goes to a private school and I pay SR 35,000 and SR 5,000 in registration fees. I was surprised today the school canceled all classes and tomorrow because of raids from government committees in search of illegal workers.”

Mohammad Hassan, another citizen, said the raids are dangerous. “We were surprised yesterday to find many shops on one of the main streets and owned by Saudi nationals and operated by expatriates still closed after Isha prayer.

“Many shoppers were puzzled but these shops only opened the following morning.”

Nitaqat: Strain of uncertain future takes its toll on foreigners


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